If Madison Bumgarner looks anything on Wednesday like he did two postseasons ago, the Mets could be in for a long night — and a short October.
In 2014, the Giants’ ace lefthander took the ball in the wild card game against the Pirates at PNC Park, throwing a four-hit shutout to spark what turned out to be one of the greatest postseasons a pitcher has ever had.
So while Noah Syndergaard and the Mets have postseason experience to lean on following their run to the World Series last fall, they haven’t experienced the intensity of a one-and-done game to open the playoffs.
“It’s not a series; that’s really all there is to know about it,” Bumgarner said. “You’ve got to get up there and you’ve got to have your stuff that day. You’ve got to have your command. You’ve got to be on. And that’s it. You have to.”
Bumgarner went 4-1 with a save — yes, a save — in seven appearances during the Giants’ 2014 championship run. His four-hit, 10-strikeout shutout of the Pirates sent the Giants to the division series, where he took his only loss of the postseason with seven innings of three-run (two earned) ball in a 4-1 loss to the Nationals.
All Bumgarner did after that was go 3-0 with a 1.14 ERA in four starts in the NL Championship Series and the World Series before finishing off the Royals with five innings of shutout relief in Game 7, earning perhaps the most impressive save in World Series history. In the World Series alone, Bumgarner allowed one run on nine hits and one walk with 17 strikeouts over 21 innings, posting a preposterous 0.43 ERA.
“I think like a lot of great athletes, pitchers just really are good in the moment,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “They’re such good competitors. They don’t let the game itself, the magnitude of the game bother them. I think they’re good players. They’re talented players. They’re very good at performing under pressure, and that’s what makes them so good.
“You see a lot of good hitters, nobody on base. They’re not the same. You get guys on base and they’re better hitters. I think pitchers are the same. The bigger the game, the better they are.”
Bumgarner’s season was impressive enough, as he went 15-9 with a 2.74 ERA in a league-high 34 starts. Just like most of the Giants, his second half was uneven, though San Francisco won seven of his final 10 starts including four of six in September.
Bumgarner gets some hugs from Giants teammates after they clinch a playoff spot.
In 14 career postseason outings (12 starts), Bumgarner is 7-3 with a 2.14 ERA, while the Giants have won 11 of those games.
Buster Posey pointed to Bumgarner’s preparation — “it’s just second to none,” the catcher said — as one of the keys to his postseason success, though it isn’t the traditional prep work that many pitchers use.
“He might not be the guy that’s going to be in the video room or analyzing stats necessarily, but you can see the wheels turning in his head and know that he’s getting ready for his opponent,” Posey said. “He’s in the gym making sure his work’s done. He’s just one of those guys that has that it-factor that you can see is there.”
Bumgarner faced the Mets twice this season, allowing four runs over 11 innings in a pair of victories. He blanked the Mets over six innings at Citi Field on May 1, improving to 4-0 with a 0.62 ERA in four career starts in Flushing.
“He’s in command of himself and all the things going on,” Hunter Pence said. “He’s got this incredible competitiveness that’s just so beautiful to watch and to be a part of and to play behind.”
Three of the four NL wild card games have been won by the road team, including Bochy’s 2014 club. Yes, the manager would prefer to be playing Wednesday night’s game at AT&T Park than at Citi Field, but with Bumgarner on the mound, the Giants are confident that they can take care of business.
“You’d much rather have it as your home game, but I really think it’s up to the guy on the mound,” Bochy said. “He sets the tone. Both sides, they usually dictate what happens. What happens in that game is how well your guy is pitching. But there’s no reason (for the road team’s success in this game). That’s the beauty of baseball. There’s no way to explain that.”
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News